Title: Crossing the Canal (chapter 1/7)
Summary: Harry is trying to find himself and Draco is trying to hide away. An unexpected meeting in Amsterdam teaches them that the past is nothing but water under the bridge, and that sometimes, what you need most is where you never thought to search.
Disclaimer: I wish Harry Potter was my idea, but it's not. I borrowed it from JKR.
Betas: anthimaeria, bewarethesmirk, and lilyfirebolt. I was incredibly lucky to have them with me. They encouraged me, gave me the concrit I needed, and were patient with all my pedantic questions and silly grammar/spelling mistakes. Thank you, my wonderful ladies!

Bad Day Turned Worse

Soft hair, soft like silk, tickled his palms as his fingers slipped through the delectable blond strands. His lips lavished the long neck in open mouth kisses, relishing the quickened pulse beneath his tongue, aware that he was the cause of it, hearing his name being sighed lustily into his ear.


The voice was in awe - not for his fame as the Boy Who Lived but for him, Harry. The hot, damp body was writhing against him. The man's hands slid down his chest and his stomach as his own hands glided greedily down the other's back, coaxing soft, mumbled words of need from the other man's mouth. His lips grazed up along the jaw line, seeking to swallow those longing words, to keep them between them, to hold on. And then a tongue ran across his bottom lip, tasting him eagerly, and he was moaning aloud.

Moaning for...


He was daydreaming again. Harry hid his flaming face behind a comic book, thankful his Camouflage and Concealment instructor could not see him right then; he would have been kicked out of Auror training, Famous Harry Potter or not.

Only this was no Dark Wizard he was dealing with. It was a Muggle, and not just any Muggle, but one of the finest male specimens Harry had ever encountered: tall, with long and shiny blond hair, sparkling blue eyes, and dimples that made Harry's heart skip each time he smiled. Perfect.

The strategy Harry came up with was simple. Go over there, say something witty, ask the man out. He decided a cup of tea would be a good idea. It was safe and conventional and it would hint at Harry being a British tourist. People usually liked tourists. Next Harry would take him somewhere small and romantic, act polite and charming, pay for everything, and they would move on from there; preferably to Harry's hotel room. Yes, good plan, he nodded to himself. All he had to do now was open his mouth and say the words. After all, he was Harry Potter; he had fought dragons and killed Voldemort. This could not possibly be any harder.

He gave the Lycia-clad men one last appreciative glance and laid down the comics. His insides warped and writhed like snakes. He had never done this before; marrying Ginny right after the war saved him the awkwardness of asking people out. He breathed in and exhaled slowly as he forced himself to walk over to the blond, trying to organise his thoughts and come up with the best opening line. Sadly, as he drew nearer, his entire detailed plan somehow lumped itself into one word upon passing his lips - "Tea?"

The young man behind the counter looked up and frowned. "Um… we don't serve tea; this is a bookshop." He chuckled. "We sell books."

Harry's cheeks burned. "I meant…" He licked his lips nervously. "I meant if you would… er… like to have tea with me? Maybe?" He allowed himself a small hopeful smile.

The other man's smile, however, vanished. "Hmm… I see," he said. "But I can't, I'm working."

"Of course." Harry laughed and it came out more breathless than he would have liked. "I didn't mean now. When are you free?"

"Sorry," the blond said warily, "I'm busy afterwards, too."

Comprehension hit Harry like a bucket of icy water – he was being turned down. A girl nearby giggled and Harry could have sworn she was laughing at him. A quick assessment of the shop taught him that if he turned left, ran straight, flanked the bookstand, and leaped over the bench – he could jump out of the window and never need to show his face ever again. But it's only three floors down, a rational voice in is head reminded; he would probably end up with a broken leg and mortification worse than he was currently experiencing. He took a few steps back. "Oh. OK then. Sorry I…" He shook his head as words failed him, turned on his heel, and raced down the stairs and as far away from there as he could before the stitch in his side made it too painful to breathe.

He vowed never to humiliate himself like that again.


Harry's holiday in Amsterdam was not going as he had expected.

His new plan was to wait for someone to approach him, while in the meantime he was wandering the streets in what he hoped were his best clothes. He was walking behind two blokes he suspected were a couple. He was not stalking them on purpose - it was not his fault that his legs were carrying him wherever his eyes roamed, which just happened to be in the direction of fine-looking men.

They paused to look at a shop window and Harry stopped as well, pretending to be interested in a collection of capsules and cacti on a shop window farther down the narrow road. He peeked at the couple from the corner of his eye as they stood there and talked, a striped rainbow-coloured flag from an upstairs flat fluttering merrily above their heads. They seemed so happy and content with their bodies turned slightly towards each other, their shoulders touching shamelessly…

A pang of jealousy speared through him. It's not fair rolled on and on like a mantra through his mind. What they had was exactly what he wanted, but as days passed by he believed more and more that he would never have it. It was his third day in Amsterdam, a city known for its large gay population, but his expectations - to be surrounded by admiring beautiful young men, same as he was with the ladies back home – never came to be. He could not understand it; it should have been so easy.

But this is not the wizarding world, he had to keep reminding himself. Here he was no war hero – the Boy Who Saved the World. Here he was nothing but a simple bespectacled bloke with an unremarkable scar and dreadful hair. If he were somebody else, he would not have given himself a second glance either.

The couple started walking again but Harry did not follow. A numbing heavy weight settled in his stomach and he turned the other way to walk along the Singel canal. A grey cloud covered the sky and he wondered whether it was going to rain again as it had for the last couple of days since he arrived. It should rain; it would definitely fit his mood. He hugged himself tightly. It was cold and he had left his coat in the hotel room, foolishly believing it would be a sunny, warm day. The harsh wind mussed his hair, but he did not bother trying to smooth it down again. What was the point if nobody noticed him anyway?

He walked with his head bowed, seeing nothing but the crooked cobblestone pavement ahead, lost in self-pity.

A fat ginger cat meowed at him from the nearby geranium flowerpot it was sitting in. Harry glared at it and kept walking. Maybe divorcing Ginny was a mistake, he thought. After all, unsatisfying sex is better than no sex at all, and at least with her he did not come back to a cold empty bed every night. Maybe this new Gay Thing was not right for him after all, no matter what his fantasies were. He could still return to her, ask her to take him back, and live unhappily ever after. Unhappily must be better than alone.

When the sun peeked from amid the clouds again, Harry looked up to see he was near the big remarkable building of the central station. It seemed his subconscious made the decision for him - he should return to London.

Right after a visit to the new broomstick exhibition, which he told everyone was the reason for this trip.

He watched the incoming tourists carrying their backpacks and suitcases as they took in their surroundings with wide, bright eyes, and wondered whether they too would leave the city with broken dreams.

He checked the broomstick exhibition leaflet that the exclusive Frequent Flyer club had owled him. The address was unfamiliar, probably somewhere farther from the centre. He hesitated whether to ask a large group of noisy teenagers for directions, but then spotted a tall blonde woman in a chequered skirt and black boots standing with her back to him not too far from there, and decided she must be local and could probably help him.

A tram came rushing from the other side. The woman was standing right on the tramlines and the blue electric train was speeding towards her, but she did not seem to notice. Harry's saving-people-thing kicked into action. He sprinted over there, grabbed her by the waist, and a second before they were both hit, he heaved them out of the way and they fell in a heap on the ground.

Harry untangled himself and stood, reaching a hand to help the woman. That was when he realised it was not a woman - it was a young man, about his age, with sharp features and cold, grey eyes. Very familiar grey eyes. Oh no.

"Malfoy?" Harry could not believe it. I should have seen it coming, he thought bitterly. Whenever it seemed as though nothing more could go wrong – it always did.

"YOU!" barked Malfoy. "Great," he threw up his hands in exasperation, "My day just keeps getting better and better."

"What are you doing here?" asked Harry, still shocked.

"Being pummelled by you, apparently," Malfoy accused, brushing and straightened his jacket, and shaking dirt off the folds of his skirt.

Harry groaned. It seemed that Malfoy had not changed much since he left Hogwarts four years ago. He still managed to get on Harry's nerves quite easily. "You should be thanking me, Malfoy, I saved your sorry arse; you were nearly hit by that train!"

"Do you think that merely because you're blind, we all are? I can see there are no tracks here, and I'm not stupid, trains must move on track-" Another tram passed behind Harry, right where Malfoy was standing only a minute ago. The gush of wind it made in its wake blew blond strands into Malfoy's wide, stunned eyes. He was frozen on the spot.

"See?" Harry grinned smugly. "I saved you."

Malfoy glared, but it was not very intimidating since he kept sneaking glances around to where the tram emerged.

Harry decided to change the subject to what he was more curious about. "So… Why are you wearing a skirt?"

"It's not a skirt, it's a kilt," Malfoy explained slowly as if Harry was extremely dumb, which was probably what Malfoy thought.

And maybe he was, because Harry really could not understand the difference. To him Malfoy still look like a bloke in a knee-length skirt. "Whatever," he shrugged. "Are you here for the broom exhibition, too?"

"Of course I am, Potter," Malfoy said. "What else would I be doing in this Muggle-infested place," he added darkly under his breath.

Harry heard him. "You still have a problem with Muggles, Malfoy? Because if you do…" he lowered his voice, "Maybe I shouldn't have defended you in your trial."

"Too late, you already did," Malfoy drawled.

Harry leaned closer. "And you think they wouldn't believe me if I changed my mind about you?"

"You wouldn't do that," Malfoy said, but there was a bit of a question in the tilt of his voice. Uncertainty.

Harry smirked triumphantly. "Oh really?"

Malfoy tightened his jaw, but did not comment. He looked away from Harry. He had every reason to fear – they both knew that one word from Harry Potter was enough to throw Malfoy in Azkaban for the rest of his life. Harry's testimony in Malfoy's favour was the only thing that kept him out of that prison.

Harry decided to let it slide. For now. "Do you know where the exhibition is?" he asked. Maybe something useful would come out of this unfortunate meeting.

"You don't even know where it is? Ha! How pitiful," Malfoy mocked.

Harry's patience drifted away with each passing second. Malfoy was impossible. "Fine, I'll find it on my own. I bet you don't know where it is either." He turned his back on Malfoy and walked away.

"I do too!" Malfoy called. There was a sound of rustling fabric and Harry turned to see Malfoy taking a Frequent Flyer Club leaflet out of his pocket and straightening it with a flourish. "It's in -" Malfoy squinted and read slowly, "Lijn … baans… gracht… Lijnbaansgracht!" He raised his head and flicked back his hair, smiling a tight-lipped, arrogant smile that Harry had the urge to wipe off.

"I know the address, you twit, I got that leaflet too." Harry rolled his eyes. "What I meant was - do you have any idea how to get there?"

Malfoy looked left and right, then back at the leaflet and then looked around again, as if looking for a big sign to pop up and show him the way.

"This is useless." Harry sighed and turned away again, determined to buy a map and find the exhibition by himself.

There were footsteps behind him and after several minutes it had not stopped, Harry glanced over his shoulder to see Malfoy staring back at him impassively. "Why are you following me?" he asked slowly.

"Don't flatter yourself, Scarface, I'm not following you," Malfoy said in that maddening contemptuous voice of his. "I just happen to be heading in the same direction."

Harry breathed deeply in attempt to calm down and kept going, wondering what else could go wrong in this nightmare of a day.

Due to his recent bad luck, Harry chose not to go along the canal lest he fall in. Instead, he went through the busy shopping street, with Malfoy following a step behind. He did not like this street; it was too noisy with all the tourists and the loud music that emerged from the shops. Being surrounded by too many people was not as difficult as it used to be three years ago after the war, but it was still making him nervous and uncomfortable. He clenched and unclenched his fists, his pulse speeding up as he made his way through the crowd. It was a test, one of many that he forced himself to go through, and he refused to give in. If he wanted to become an Auror, he had to fight his demons.

A piercing shriek cut through the noise of the busy street. Harry turned, reaching for his wand by instinct, ready to attack. But it was only Malfoy – completely unharmed, yet white as a ghost.

"Is that - is - is that -" Malfoy stuttered at a shop window, his whole body shaking like a leaf. Then, abruptly he bellowed, "Those Muggles are crazy!" and made to run, crashing straight into Harry.

Harry grabbed Malfoy by his shoulders, and held him at arm's length. "What's wrong with you? Calm down!"

"Potter, they cut people up, they're insane!" Malfoy's face was chalk-white and he looked as if he was going to either burst into tears or throw up. Harry hoped it was neither; he was not keen to be covered in Malfoy's vomit, and crying people unnerved him.

"I must get out of here, let go of me!" Malfoy yelled. As he squirmed, trying to escape, a group of loud boys passed by and one of them hit Malfoy with his backpack. Malfoy yelped and leaped into Harry's arms again, clinging tightly. "Do something," he mumbled into Harry's chest.

Having another man so firmly against him like that was making Harry's body react in the most inappropriate of ways. He tried to detach Malfoy from himself, but Malfoy refused to let go. "Are you on drugs or something?" Harry asked. "Because I don't know what you're talking about."

Malfoy pointed a trembling finger at the nearby shop window. With his face still buried in Harry's jumper he said, "They sell body parts. Human body parts." He lifted his head to stare at Harry with wide, grey eyes. "I mean, it's one thing to sell fingernails or bones or even mummified hands, but this?" He gulped. "It looks - it looks – fresh," he finished in a tiny voice.

For a long minute, Harry stared at the huge and very realistic-looking vibrator Malfoy was pointing at. He blinked. He tried not to laugh, he really did, but he failed. "It's just a toy, Malfoy," he explained, sniggering, "You know – a sex toy."

Malfoy crossed his hands protectively over his crotch. "They chopped up someone's penis so they could use it as a toy, And you think it's funny?"

"No, I think you're funny," said Harry, still cackling. "It's not real. It's made of plastic or something, it just looks real. See?" he pointed at another vibrator, "this one doesn't even look real, it's blue and shaped like a dolphin."

Malfoy looked over the display, his gaze darting from one item to the next. "Are you sure? It's just… Transfigured to look like that?" he asked sceptically. Then he narrowed his eyes. "Or are you only saying that to protect the Muggles you love so much?"

Harry sighed. Malfoy was beginning to irritate him again. "First of all, I don't love them; some are bad and some are good, just like wizards. And secondly - are you completely ignorant? Muggles can't Transfigure, they can't use magic, remember?"

Malfoy sneered. "Oh yeah? Well if you're so smart, then how did they make it without Transfiguration? Or was that a lie?"

Harry rubbed the bridge of his nose and wondered if a hag had cursed Malfoy's voice to be the most annoying sound on Earth. "I suppose they made it by using a cast or something, which some bloke probably modelled for, being coated with plaster and…" He lost his train of thoughts as he imagined that model, the man who carried that around in his pants, and how he would love to meet him and… and… He shook his head trying to clear it and shifted uncomfortably. He missed his robes, those tight jeans were far too revealing. He noticed Malfoy was staring at him with a raised eyebrow, and remembered he was in the middle of saying something. "So, er… that's that, and, er… yeah," he finished weakly.

"So the freakish Muggles won't hurt me? Promise?" Malfoy asked, still clutching his crotch.

"Yes, you're perfectly safe. Now stop fondling yourself in public," Harry said and tugged at Malfoy's wrists until Malfoy reluctantly dropped his hand to his sides. "C'mon, let's find the exhibition before we're late."


About five minutes later, far too soon in Harry's opinion, Malfoy spoke again. "Honestly, Potter, is there anywhere you're not famous? This is becoming ridiculous!"

Harry closed his eyes and sighed. What was the little nuisance's problem this time? He frowned at Malfoy, making sure his exasperation showed.

Malfoy snorted. "Of course you're too used to it, you don't even notice anymore." At Harry's confused look, he added, "Everyone is gawking at you, it's highly annoying," he drawled.

Harry looked around, and saw that yes, people were staring, but… "They're not looking at me, you dolt, they're looking at you!"

"Preposterous. Why would they be looking at me like that?"

"I can't tell for certain," Harry said with a feigned air of contemplation, "But my guess would be it has something to do with the fact that you are wearing women's clothing."

Malfoy stopped walking. "Pardon?"

Harry turned to face him. " Amsterdam is a very liberal city, but it's still uncommon to see men stroll around in skirts," he said and waved at Malfoy's outfit.

"It's not a skirt, it's a kilt!" Malfoy declared again with his hands on his hips. "Muggle men wear them, I've seen pictures." He raised his chin. "Pictures of very manly Muggles, with muscles and whiskers... Soldiers even. And they were wearing kilts, just like mine."

Harry held up his hands in surrender. "Hey, I'm not judging you. If drag is what does it for you, fine by me." He glanced down Malfoy's body. "You definitely have the legs to pull it off," he added, only half joking.

Malfoy did not have a chance to respond, because as if on cue, a spiky-haired girl came up to them and Harry noticed she too was wearing a tartan-patterned skirt, almost identical to Malfoy's. She smiled brightly. "Love your outfit," she told Malfoy, giggled in that irksome way girls always did, winked, and disappeared again amongst the crowd.

Malfoy blinked a couple of times, looking stunned. "Why… why is the only other person here wearing a kilt is a female?" he asked in a flat voice.

Harry shrugged. "Told you so."

Malfoy made a sound very much like a whimper. Then he seized Harry's arm. "Switch clothes with me! Please, I'll do anything, I'll give you a thousand Galleons. You'll like it, it feels just like wearing robes, c'mon!" he pleaded.

Harry smirked. "I'm not into drag, sorry." He was beginning to enjoy himself. Malfoy was a bit irritating, but very entertaining as well. It helped Harry put his mind off his own problems.

"But you must! I can't walk around dressed like this." Malfoy's grip on his arm tightened painfully.

"You've done so this far," Harry said, not even trying to hide his amusement. But the desperation in Malfoy's eyes and his pouting lips won over Harry. Damn this saving-people-thing. "Why won't you just buy a pair of jeans or something?" he offered.

Malfoy brightened. "Like yours? I can do that! Where?"

Harry steered him into the closest clothing shop. The curly-haired shop assistant grinned at them, shamelessly looking up and down Malfoy's body. "Just give him some trousers, please," said Harry.

"Anything more specific?" she asked, still grinning.

"Anything but a skirt," was Malfoy's unhelpful response.

"Why? It looks so good on you," she said. Harry wondered if that grin was affixed to her face with a Permanent Sticking Charm.

Malfoy however seemed pleased. "It does, doesn't it? I knew it, it is manly!" he said and puffed up his chest.

"Oh. Manly? Is that the look you were going for? I thought it was the other way round," she said. "Well, I'll go get you some nice jeans."

Malfoy scowled. "Men wear kilts!" he shouted after her.

She came back holding three pairs of jeans. "You're right, some men wear kilts and yes, they even manage to look masculine."

"Exactly!" Malfoy agreed. Then he frowned. "So I do look masculine?"

"I said some men." At Malfoy's puzzled expression she added, "Sorry, dear, but you're no Sean Connery."

Harry burst out laughing. Malfoy still looked puzzled and mouthed who? at Harry as he took the offered trousers.

When Malfoy came out of the dressing room and posed in front of the big mirror, Harry could not prevent his gaze from gliding over Malfoy's jeans-clad arse. I must be extremely horny if I'm checking out Malfoy, he thought to himself. Though he had to admit - Malfoy's backside made a lovely view.

The shop assistant caught Harry's eyes in the mirror and winked, and he hastily looked away. Malfoy noticed nothing. He was too busy twirling

"I'll take them all." Malfoy withdrew from his pocket a large velvet bag that reminded Harry of the Triwizard winnings.

The girl eyed the bag curiously. "That would be four hundred seventy seven Gulden."

Malfoy peeked in his bag and bit his lip. "Do you take gold? Or gems? I have some rubies."

For a long minute Malfoy and the shop assistant stared at each other – she in disbelief and he in complete seriousness.

Harry wanted to bang his head against the wall. He quickly pulled Malfoy aside. "What are you doing?" he whispered.

"I'm trying to pay, what does it look like I'm doing?"

"Don't you have Muggle money?"

"It's not like I'm trying to pay in Galleons! I have real gold bricks, and I know Muggles value gold."

"Not in shops they don't." Harry grunted. "You are so gormless, Malfoy, I'm surprised you survived this long." He took out his wallet and paid.

They left the shop and Malfoy promised to pay him back.

When Malfoy started complaining how uncomfortable the jeans were and how confining they were around his privates, Harry lost his temper and rounded on him. He held a silencing finger to Malfoy's lips. "Shut. Up," he said through his teeth. "Or I'll hex them off, and leave you to toddle around in your boxers. Or knickers. Who knows what you wear down there."

Malfoy slapped his finger away. "Take your fingers away from my face, who knows where it's been." He glared. "And don't you threaten me, I'm not afraid of you. And for your information – it's neither," he added, flicking his hair away from his face. Nevertheless, he did not complain any longer, and at last, Harry had some peace.

Harry bought a map of the city and led the way while Malfoy kept quiet, occasionally hitting Harry with his shopping bag and pretending not to notice, until Harry decided he had enough and forced Malfoy into a reeking public toilet – a spiral structure in the middle of the street – and ordered him to shrink it.


An hour later, they found themselves in front of a small parchment sign indicating where the broomstick exhibition was supposed to be:

The Broomstick of the New Millennium Exhibition has sailed away.

Ha! You missed it!

Better luck next time...

For a long minute Harry and Malfoy stared at it, jaws dropped, and unblinking. They finally arrived and all they found was this note levitating in midair.

"Er… it's open tomorrow too, right?" Harry asked.

"Yeah, but today was the opening," Malfoy whined, "with the unveiling of the new broom and a show-game of the Dutch national team."

"Fuck." Harry kicked a small patch of grass that grew between the pavement tiles. He would need to stay in Amsterdam for another day.

"Now what?" Malfoy asked.

A police car passed by, its siren ringing in Harry's ear long after it was gone from sight, giving him a headache. "Sitting down to eat would be nice. I've been walking around all morning," he said, rubbing his temples.

They went searching for a restaurant. Harry wondered why Malfoy was still there with him, but did not voice the question. Malfoy was not his first choice of a companion, but at least he was not alone any more.

"So… are you training to be an Auror?" Malfoy asked as the silence grew heavy.

"Yes, I still have one year left; I started right after finishing with my NEWTs."

"Hmm." Malfoy frowned, but said no more.

"What about you? Do you work?" he asked, trying to keep a civil conversation going.

Malfoy guffawed. "Are you serious? I'm the head of the Malfoy family now. You probably can't even fathom how rich I am." He snorted. "Work... Me. What a ludicrous idea."

"What do you do then? Sit on your arse all day long?" Harry asked, more out of envy than annoyance. He wished he too could have more free time for himself.

"No. I do… stuff," Malfoy said. "I read, fly around the grounds, supervise the family's properties… Oh, and I'm going to be married soon," he added in an afterthought.

"Really? Do I know the bride?" Harry could not help feeling sorry for her, being stuck with Malfoy for the rest of her life.

"I doubt it. She's from South Africa." Malfoy shrugged in a bored kind of way.

"What's she like?"

"Oh, she's perfect." Malfoy said, jutting his chin in approval. For a moment, Harry thought he was about to hear a rampant depiction of love. However, he was wrong… "She comes from a respectable pure-blood family," Malfoy continued, "healthy, good genes, well-mannered, tall, educated, has even teeth -"

Harry put up a hand to stop him. "Are you talking about your fiancée, or a horse?" he asked, feeling even sorrier for the woman.

"She must be fit to bear me an heir, Potter"

"And by heir you mean a baby, right?" Harry corrected, incredulous.

"Well, I'm not going to leave the Malfoy fortune to the family pet, am I?"

Harry shook his head in disbelief. "Do you even love her?"

Malfoy stared at him, scrunching his nose. "What's that got to do with anything?"

Harry was too stunned to answer.

"I was supposed to spend this weekend with her in Paris, but I wanted to see the new broom, so I had to cancel," Malfoy said as they continued walking.

Harry frowned. "It's not that important. The exhibition's coming to London next month; you shouldn't have cancelled just for that."

"Oh, is it? If it's not that important, then why are you here?"

"Because I wanted to -" I wanted to have wild random sex with men seemed like too much information - "to see the sights."

They reached what seemed like a decent Italian restaurant and sat at an outdoor table at the bank of the canal. Harry laid his head on the backrest and sighed. It felt good to rest his feet. They ordered and watched the boats in the canal beneath them while waiting for their food.

"It's almost like Venice in here, with all the water," Malfoy said.

Harry had never had the chance to leave Britain before now. "Is it? I've never been there. Was it nice?" He knew that Malfoy spent a long time in Italy, hiding from Voldemort and the Ministry with his mother.

Malfoy shrugged one shoulder. "I didn't go out much. Mother was paranoid, wouldn't let me leave the palace."

"Wait a minute." Harry sat straight in his chair. "Palace?" He could not help the twinge of resentment he felt, imagining Malfoy lazing about while he and his friends engaged in bloodied battles, saving the world.

Malfoy waved a hand in dismissal. "It's not as good as it sounds. We didn't have house-elves and we could only hire one servant at a time. A Muggle servant that we had to keep Obliviating so he wouldn't tell anyone. It was awful."

"Only one servant? You poor, poor thing," said Harry in mock sympathy.

"I know!" Malfoy completely missed the point. "Well, we're back in the Manor now so everything's all right. But let me tell you, you really learn to appreciate the important things in life when they're taken away from you."

Harry thought about the people he lost in the war, people he should have appreciated more when he still had the chance, and scowled. "By important things you mean good service?" he asked, appalled.


A sour-faced waiter brought their food and saved Harry the hassle of rising and tossing Malfoy into the water. It amazed Harry how he and Malfoy, two people of the same age, had nothing in common. He used to wonder whether Malfoy would be better once he got to know him, but now that he spent some time with him, he realised Malfoy was even worse.

Harry shook his head in disgust and stabbed his ravioli with his fork.


Author's note: Reviews are most appreciated. Please feel free to be as brutally honest as you like. Concrit is love. Thanks for reading!